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    #21

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    The only relevant sense of "sympathy" in the American Heritage Dictionary is mutual understanding or feeling between people.
    No, that's not right. The basic sense of sympathy is that it is not mutual. It flows one way. In this case, from Elizabeth to Victor and Henry.

    This is not to say that it cannot be mutual, however.

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    #22

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    The passage uses religious images such as "saintly," "celestial," "shrine-dedicated lamp," and "bless." I was entertaining the possiility that "her sympathy was ours" was also a religious image, maybe in relation to sainthood.
    Okay, I see. But images is an inappropriate word. You've listed words, not images. An image is a picture.

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    #23

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    This is a very different kind of utterance. It is not a claim, but an impression. You have no cause to question its truth, or to demand any justification. If I told you that I felt happy, you wouldn't ask me what evidence I had to say such a thing, would you?
    If you told me you felt happy, I'd be interested to know what made you happy. Something like "I won the lottery today" might be expected. Writing instructors typically say a written piece is supposed to have a structure that flows from general to specific.

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    #24

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    Quote Originally Posted by jutfrank View Post
    No, that's not right. The basic sense of sympathy is that it is not mutual. It flows one way. In this case, from Elizabeth to Victor and Henry.

    This is not to say that it cannot be mutual, however.
    Who knows? The passage was written two centuries ago, when some words might have had different meanings.

    https://ahdictionary.com/word/search.html?q=sympathy

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    #25

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    Who knows? The passage was written two centuries ago, when some words might have had different meanings.
    Who knows?

    Perhaps jutfrank and Piscean, both native speakers of British Engllsh with years of experience of studying and teaching English.
    Perhaps Charlie, a native speaker of American English. who has tutored writing at university level, , and done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.
    Typoman - writer of rongs

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    #26

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Who knows?

    Perhaps jutfrank and Piscean, both native speakers of British Engllsh with years of experience of studying and teaching English.
    Perhaps Charlie, a native speaker of American English. who has tutored writing at university level, , and done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.
    I'm curious about whether "Someone's sympathy is ours" is current English, or belongs to an earlier form of English that none of you speak as a native language.

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    #27

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    I'm curious about whether "Someone's sympathy is ours" is current English, or belongs to an earlier form of English that none of you speak as a native language.
    It's not a natural construction in contemporary English.
    I am not a teacher.

  8. jutfrank's Avatar
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    #28

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    Quote Originally Posted by raymondaliasapollyon View Post
    I'm curious about whether "Someone's sympathy is ours" is current English, or belongs to an earlier form of English that none of you speak as a native language.
    There's nothing unusual about it, in my opinion. It's just a variation of the common pattern:


    • to have someone's sympathy


    This pattern has a possessive sense. The 'possessor' is the one receiving. Here are some more usual expressions of the same pattern:

    You have my sympathy.
    Could I have some sympathy, please?


    This is not to be confused with the following pattern:


    • to have sympathy for someone


    Here, the possessor is the person giving. Here's an example

    I have no sympathy for him.

    I wonder if these two patterns have been confused.

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    #29

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    On other forums, I asked about the clause in question. Someone cited the following definition from the OED:

    Sympathy: 3. a. Conformity of feelings, inclinations, or temperament, which makes persons agreeable to each other; community of feeling; harmony of disposition.

    His understanding is this:
    “[From her and by her example] we held those common sentiments that we shared amongst ourselves and which bound us together.”

    It appears that this use of "sympathy" is different from the one most familiar in current English, i.e., feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else's misfortune. If sense 3. a. is assumed for "her sympathy was ours," the rest of the passage (reproduced as follows) would be understood coherently as supporting details:

    I might have become sullen in my study, rough through the ardour of my nature, but that she was there to subdue me to a semblance of her own gentleness. And Clerval—could aught ill entrench on the noble spirit of Clerval?—yet he might not have been so perfectly humane, so thoughtful in his generosity—so full of kindness and tenderness amidst his passion for adventurous exploit, had she not unfolded to him the real loveliness of beneficence, and made the doing good the end and aim of his soaring ambition.

    With the OED definition, however, the phrasing of "her sympathy was ours" remains peculiar. Perhaps "X's sympathy is Y's" is used by Shelley as a poetic way of stressing (virtual) oneness of disposition.
    Last edited by raymondaliasapollyon; 13-Jun-2020 at 07:01.

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    #30

    Re: Her sympathy was ours

    I can't see a problem with any of this.

    Shelley is simply attempting to characterise Elizabeth as a saintly figure. The sense of sympathy is in relation to this characterisation.

    What's the problem here exactly? Understanding the sense of sympathy in the context? Or the particular phrasing of the words in bold (which doesn't seem to me to be very strange at all)?

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